5 Best Extruders for Ender 3

When you get the Ender 3 V2, you’ll quickly realize that its extruder is made of cheap plastic. The extruder that comes with the printer can last for about 2 or 3 months, after which the filament will start grinding through the plastic or the lever arm will break.

This being the case, you have to look for a different extruder. So, which is the best extruder upgrade for the Creality Ender 3?

Read on.

Over the last few years, the 3D printing accessories aftermarket has tremendously grown. Today, you can easily find parts for your printer, whether you are looking for a replacement part or want to upgrade its performance.

In this guide, we are going to look at the best extruder upgrades for the Creality Ender 3. However, before we get to that, you need to consider whether you will be going with a single or dual extruder.

Also, will you be using direct drive or keeping the Bowden extruder?

Other things to keep in mind include whether the new extruder upgrade will be able to handle the types of filaments you will be using.

Understanding the different extruders available and their capabilities will help you make the right decision.

Single Gear Vs Dual Drive Extruder

There are two types of extruders: Single Gear and Dual Gear

Note: The Dual Drive extruder is not the same as the Direct Drive extruder.

Both Single Gear and Dual Drive Extruder serve the same function. However, these extruders handle filaments differently.

Below is an overview of the two extruders:

Single Gear Extruder Dual Drive Extruder
Single Gear

This extruder has a toothed gear that is mounted on the motor shaft. A free spinning idler wheel presses against the gar, in turn placing tension on the filament, making it pass through the hotend. This is the most common extruder for Ender 3.

Dual Drive

With this extruder, the idler wheel is replaced with a second “hobbed” drive gear, and this makes it grip the filament from both sides for greater control. The better grip helps to reduce slippage and missed steps while increasing accuracy and precision.

For many makers, a single drive extruder would be sufficient for their needs. However, the Dual Drive extruder is superior and can handle flexible filaments like Ninja Flex and TPU.

Bowden Extruder Vs. Direct Drive Extruder

Majority of Creality 3D printers use the Bowden system. However, Direct Drive extruders are also becoming increasingly popular with 3D printer manufacturers. Even Creality integrated the Direct Drive extruder in the CR10 V3 3D printer.

Companies like Printer Mods, Micro Swiss and others even provide conversion kits that allow you to convert your 3D printer’s Bowden extruder to a Direct Drive extruder.

Bowden Extruder Direct Drive Extruder
Bowden Extruder

This extruder is mounted remotely on the 3D printer’s frame and it pushes the filament to the hotend through a ‘Bowden’ tube. The mechanism reduces excess weight on the hotend, allowing for accurate prints at a faster speed.

Direct Drive Extruder

This extruder sits directly above the hotend and pushes the filament straight down into the melting chamber. Its working mechanism ensures your models do not suffer print defects such as zits and blobs, which are common with Bowden extruders. However, the elimination of these print defects comes at a cost of more weight and slower printing speeds.

In most cases, aftermarket extruders are designed to work as both Bowden and direct drive configurations. While manufacturers may favor one type of extruder over the other, they typically provide extra brackets and adapters to make their extruders compatible.

Best Extruder Upgrades for Creality Ender 3

Below are the best extruder upgrades for Creality Ender 3:

1. Bondtech BMG

Bondtech BMG

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Bondtech is one of the leading dual drive extruder manufacturers on the market. One of the company’s most successful extruder is the MG, a compact and lightweight unit that works just right.

The BMG extruder has two hardened steel drive gears that are precision CNC-machined to the highest standards. Every groove and tooth is carefully crafted for maximum pushing force without the risk of degrading the filament.

The extruder pinches the filament from both sides to ensures a uniform grip. This extruder can also handle a wide range of materials, from soft flexible filaments to abrasive options.

5 Best Extruders for Ender 3 1
Clone gear on the left side, Bondtech BMG gear on the right
5 Best Extruders for Ender 3 2
Clone gear on the left side, Bondtech BMG gear on the right

Away from the gears, the Bondtech BMG extruder has a thumbscrew tensioner for adjusting the gear pressure or filament. The extruders also has a quick-release lever that comes in handy when you want to swap materials. Finally, this extruder can work with a wide range of filaments, is compatible with both direct drive and Bowden extruders on nearly any 3D printer.

If you choose to buy the Bondtech BMG extruder, there is already an integrated groove mount that fits the E3D V6 hotend. You can also find tons of official mounting brackets, designs, filaments and more at the company’s STL library.

Pros

  • Fits a wide range of printable brackets
  • Quick-release lever that allows you to easily swap materials
  • Thumbscrew tensioning for fine tuning
  • 3:1 gear ratio for precision control
  • Hardened steel dual drive gears
  • Lightweight assembly (75g)

Cons

  • The Bowden adapter is sold separately

If you don’t want to buy the extruder at the moment, you can get the Bondtech Drive Gears as standalone. These gears are compatible with generic dual extruders as well as clones.

2. Micro Swiss Direct Drive Extruder

Micro Swiss Direct Drive Extruder

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

The Micro Swiss Direct Drive Extruder is also one of the best extruder upgrades for Creality Ender 3. This is a plug-and-play solution, i.e., does not require any retrofitting parts or printed mounting brackets. The CNC machining of the extruder is exceptional.

The Ender 3 extruder has a spring tensioned lever that makes it easy to load a filament. The filament path is also short and constrained, which means it’s great for flexible filaments.

The Micro Swiss Direct Drive extruder does not come in a standard Direct Drive configuration. You can use a piece of Capricorn Bowden tubing between the hotend and the extruder to make it a ‘hybrid’ unit. Regarding performance, this hack will not reduce the quality of prints.

Pros

  • Compatible with the stock Micro Swill and Creality all metal hotend
  • Has an adjustable filament grip
  • Lightweight aluminum assembly
  • Hardened steel dual drive gears

Cons

  • Reduces print volume (Z axis)
  • Not a geared extruder

The Micro Swiss Direct Drive Extruder is a no brainer for Creality Ender 3 and CR10 owners that want to switch. This precision CNC machined extruder offers high-performance dual drive extrusion and is specifically designed for Creality 3D printers.

For Ender 5 owners looking to use the Micro Swiss Direct Drive Extruder, this version would be required dues to a slight variation in the backing plate.

E3D Hemera Extruder

E3D Hemera Extruder

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

The E3D Hemera Extruder (formerly known as Hermes) is a complete hotend extruder bundle. This bundle features proprietary stepper motor and a genuine E3D V6 hotend.

The unit is a compact dual gear extruder whose design results in a shorter filament path between the nozzle and gears. This reduced distance means less friction, less binding, and less retraction.

The Hemera extruder has a metal drivetrain that is CNC-machines from hardened steel. Combined with shielded ball bearings and IGUS bushings, this is a completely dry setup that is easy to maintain and self-cleaning.

Like is the case with most E3D products, the Hermes is not a drop-in replacement for Creality 3D printers. However, this is not really a problem. There are many printable mounting brackets on Thingiverse that can make it compatible with various 3D printers.

5 Best Extruders for Ender 3 3

Pros

  • A little cheaper than Bondtech BMG extruder
  • Backwards compatible with Volcano and E3D V6
  • Short filament path for flexible filament
  • Has hardened steel dual drive gears

Cons

  • Has some teething problems (check them here)
  • Moderate wight
  • Only works with proprietary NEMA17 motor design

The E3D Hemera Extruder may seem like an expensive product. However, when you consider the company’s V6 hotend that is about $60, then it becomes clear that the extruder is quite affordable. Moreover, given the R&D that went into building the Hemera extruder (check it out here), the price is justifiable.

SeeMeCNC EZR Extruder

5 Best Extruders for Ender 3 4

AVAILABLE ON MATTERHACKERS

SeeMeCNC has some of the best Delta 3D printers on the market, and the EZR Extruder is specifically built for them. However, the extruder is also a bolt-on solution for any other printers, including the Creality Ender 3.

When mounted on the Creality Ender 3, the extruder mounts right on the stock, without the need for any customization of retrofitting.

The EZR Extruder can handle a wide range for filaments, including flexible options such as Ninja Flex and TPU. The extruder’s Bowden tubing runs nearly the full length of the channel and goes down right at the idler puller and drive gear. The result is a well-constrained, low-friction filament path that will ensure soft materials do not bind together.

The EZR Extruder is mainly intended for Bowden systems. As a result, it easily fits the Ender 3 and CR10 without any issues. However, you can also use the extruder for direct drive conversion. Here is a great video showing the process:

Pros

  • Open-source design
  • Easy to load and remove filament
  • Can print flexible filaments

Cons

  • Not officially supported by SeeMeCNC
  • Single drive gear

E3D Titan Extruder

E3D Titan Extruder

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

The E3D Titan is a lightweight extruder that can use an ultra slim Pancake Stepper Motor to drive filament. This extruder is molded from Delrin, weighs just over 2 ounces and has a balanced 3:1 gear ratio.

You can pair the extruder with a small 13N-cm stepper motor. Doing this will make the total package to come around 8.5 oz (which is 1.5X less than that of the E3D Hemera).

However, as Direct Drive Extruder conversions becomes more popular, you may want to consider reduced mass on the X axis. Any extra weight above the hotend will mean more vibrations as it will continually change the speed and direction. The result will be an increase in ringing (a.k.a. ghosting) of the prints.

Pros

  • Compatible with 1.75mm and 3m filament
  • Has a durable plastic frame
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • The Bowden adapter is sold separately
  • Single drive gear
  • It’s quite expensive

While the E3D Titan is a little dated compared to other extruder upgrades, it is well-built and fills a niche. If price is an issue, you can always go for Chinese clones on the market.

E3D Titan Extruder READ: E3D Titan Extruder Review

Dual Drive Extruder

Dual Drive Extruder

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

This Dual Drive extruder is unbranded and a replica of the Creality CR10s Pro. The unit is pretty solid and quite affordable. Moreover, it is a step up from the single geared aluminum extruders.

The CR10S Pro uses genuine Bondtech gears. Therefore, you can be sure of top-notch performance. However, the extruder’s CNC machining is of lower quality, and sometimes even questionable.

Pros

  • Direct replacement (no modification required)
  • Durable aluminum construction
  • Dual drive gear extruder
  • Cheap

Cons

  • For best performance, you have to modify the extruder
  • There is no busing between the lever and the gear
  • Poor quality control

This extruder is chape and easy to use. While majority of aftermarket extruders require printed mounting brackets, this dual drivee extruder works without any brackets.

Creality Aluminum Extruder

Creality Aluminum Extruder

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

The Creality Aluminum also makes it on our list of the best extruder upgrades for Ender 3, Ender 5 and CR10 3D printers. This extruder is made of metal and is superior to the injection molded plastic that come stock.

This cheap kit has a weak compression spring and cheap brass gear found on the stock extruder. If you will be buying this extruder, it’s best you pair it with 40T Stainless Steel Drive Gear that will grip the filament and a Yellow Die Spring that will ensure the correct tension is applied.

Pros

  • Anodized in 5 different colors
  • Direct replacement (no modification required)
  • Aluminum parts are much more durable
  • Extremely cheap

Cons

  • Single gear extruder
  • Intake hole can cause filament wear
  • No performance improvements

If you are on a budget, this will be an excellent extruder to buy. You can further upgrade it with a few small parts that are simple to install.

 

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